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Governor calls for federal action against fish farming


September 10, 2004

Alaska Governor Frank H. Murkowski is asking the U.S. Department of Commerce for a five-year moratorium on new finfish farming and for other concessions before considering any changes to encourage aquaculture in federal waters.

In Alaska, coastal communities have traditionally lived off the bountiful fish resources of our sea and marine finfish farming threatens that livelihood as well as consumer confidence in wild Alaska salmon, Murkowski said.

Commerce officials are considering federal changes to promote fish farming within the Exclusive Economic Zone, a band of federal waters that begins three miles offshore and extends out to 200 miles. Currently, fish farming is regulated by states within their own waters.

Alaska, which has the largest wild capture fishing industry in the United States, provides the nation with half of its seafood catch. Alaska contains half of the nations EEZ waters and its fishermen are already suffering from the damaging effects of foreign salmon farms.

Governor Murkowski is asking U.S. Commerce Secretary Don Evans to take the following action:

  • Place a five-year moratorium on new finfish aquaculture operations to allow adequate scientific research on the environmental and socio-economic impacts of fish farming. This would also give the public and the fishing industry the opportunity to adjust to changing markets, observe and comment on policy changes.
    ? Give state governors a substantial role in determining what types of aquaculture activities occur in waters off their coastlines.
  • Approve a statutory prohibition on aquaculture of salmon and some other species. Experience in Chile, Canada and other countries shows salmon farming is environmentally damaging and escapement threatens native fish stocks with disease and parasites.
  • Regional Fisheries Management Councils should be tasked with evaluating information gathered and research conducted in order to assess the potential impacts and benefits of fish farming on federal waters. Each RFMC should be allowed to determine whether the moratorium should be lifted for the region over which it has authority.

The administration plans to hold town hall meetings with Alaska fishermen on fish farming Nov. 12th in Seattle during the Pacific Marine Expo and again in Anchorage in February 2005.

Governor Murkowski also made similar comments to the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy. His comments can be found at:


Source of News Release:

Office of the Governor
Web Site


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